Digital Forensics: an Emerging Field for Solving Crimes



With technology playing an increasingly important role in our lives, it has also opened up new avenues for criminal activities. From cybercrimes to ordinary crimes involving digital evidence, digital forensics has emerged as a specialized field that uses scientific techniques to recover and investigate digital evidence found in computers, mobile devices, networks and other electronic systems. In this article, we will explore the scope and importance of digital forensics, the techniques used and how it is helping law enforcement tackle various crimes in today’s digital world.

What is Digital Forensics?

Digital forensics, also known as computer forensics or cyber forensics, refers to the process of identifying, preserving, analyzing and presenting digital evidence in a manner that is legally acceptable. Digital forensics experts use a systematic approach and approved scientific techniques to properly extract and examine digital information from devices, networks or systems while maintaining the integrity of the information. The information recovered could be in the form of files, emails, contacts, call logs, location data or anything that can be stored digitally.

The goal of digital forensics is to find evidence that would aid the investigation of incidents such as cybercrime, intellectual property theft, fraud investigations and even ordinary crimes that may have a digital evidence component. It helps investigators answer questions like who, what, when, where and how regarding a digital event or digital information. Digital forensics has established itself as a quintessential part of any modern criminal investigation procedure.

Scopes and Importance

Digital forensics has an increasingly important role to play due to the wide scopes of evidence that can potentially be recovered through such investigations:

– Cybercrime Investigation: Digital forensics is indispensable in probing cyber offences like hacking, data theft, ransomware attacks, phishing scams, internet fraud and other online criminal activities. It helps track the origin, pathways and intended targets.

– Intellectual Property Theft: In cases involving theft of trade secrets, copyrighted content and other intellectual property, digital forensics techniques can recover deleted files, uncover hidden documents and track the dissemination of such materials.

– Fraud Probing: Be it financial fraud, insurance fraud or other white-collar crimes, digital devices often contain crucial transaction records, communication trails and planning documents. Forensic analysis is critical to building an air-tight case.

– Homicide and violent crimes: Even violent offenses like homicide may have a digital aspect if the perpetrator communicated threats or details online. Mobile device extraction can reveal location trails, communication with other suspects and more.

– Missing Persons Investigations: In cases where a person goes missing under suspicious circumstances, thorough digital forensics of their devices and accounts could reveal clues about their activities before disappearance and potentially identify persons of interest.

– Corporate Investigations: Issues involving data leaks, theft of intellectual property or embezzlement of funds in companies often require forensic examination of employee devices and network activity logs for fact-finding.

– Legal/Compliance Proving: Digital forensics is also utilized for eDiscovery in litigation support, proving regulatory or policy compliance and for internal security reviews by organizations.

As visible, digital forensics casts a wide net when it comes to types of crimes and issues that it can potentially provide valuable insights into. Given the pervasiveness of digital devices in our lives, its importance can only rise further for law enforcement agencies worldwide.

Digital Forensics Techniques

In order to recover evidence from digital devices and systems in a forensically sound manner, approved techniques and protocols must be followed:

– Imaging/cloning: Creating forensic bitstream copies or images of storage devices/media to avoid altering the original and for future examination without risk of evidence modification.

– Live/dead acquisition: Acquiring volatile memory and system configurations from a running system or powering it down first for a static memory capture based on investigative needs and device type.

– File system analysis: Thorough search and inspection of file directories, locations, timestamps, slack space and deleted space for recoverable files and metadata.

– Database examination: Extraction and interrogation of databases, registry files, application databases, cloud storage databases for relevant records and artifacts.

– Internet activity scanning: Reconstruction of web browsing history, cache files, login timestamps, bookmarks and downloaded files from browsers and associated files.

– Communication extraction: Recovery of call logs, contacts, SMS texts, email contents and cloud/social media communication trails from devices.

– Keyword/keyword searches: String and pattern matching using keywords of interest to pinpoint relevant documents, strings and potential suspects among voluminous digital content.

– Timeline creation: Chronological mapping of events, file/program activity and user interactions based on artifact timestamps to create a timeline of digital events of interest.

– Mobile device forensics: Special protocols for extracting user data, location pings, app usage and deleted files from smartphones and metadata unique to mobile devices.

Proper forensic imaging, controlled searching and document handling is important to preserve chain of custody considerations during every step to ensure recovered evidence stands up to judicial scrutiny.


In this digital era, digital forensics is no longer an auxiliary investigative aid but has become a fundamental part of any serious investigation involving potential electronic evidence. Its non-intrusive and scientific techniques help recover deep-dive insights that may not be apparent even to experienced users of digital devices and systems. As technology continues to evolve rapidly, digital forensics too must keep advancing methodologies to tackle new forms of devices and stay ahead of anti-forensics counter-measures. With dedicated research and training in this field, investigators now have powerful tools to solve a wide ambit of crimes with a digital nexus. Digital forensics indeed holds great potential to revolutionize how crimes are investigated and justice is served in today’s tech-enabled world.


  1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
  2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it